The theme for Sepia Saturday this week was almost too easy for me: vintage advertising paper dolls. I have many in my collection. The following are all from the Lion Coffee "Children's Dolls With Stories" collection. In total there are 30 dolls to collect. I have yet to find all of them.

The Lion Coffee company was owned by Alvin Mansfield Woolson.
Alvin M. Woolson was born in Huron Ohio, October 5, 1840 (always considered a good year for coffee in this office). Brought-up by foster parents, the boy did his share of farm labor, attending school only during the three winter months of the year. He worked in a country store, and later took a turn as a printers devil for the Sandusky Register. At the outbreak of the Civil War young Alvin enlisted in the First Regiment, Ohio Volunteers. In the course of the War, he received as appointment as Sergeant Major, of Artillery, in the Army of the Patomac.

In the aftermath of the war, Woolson moved west with the Union Pacific Railroad of E.H. Harriman, working in the capacity of accountant. In later years he recounted that among his duties was to ward off Indian attacks. With his feelings of wonderlust fullfilled and the railroad complete, Woolson moved back to Ohio where he clerked in a country store for a year prior to making the decision to set up for himself which he did, in the town of Wauseon with a capital of $125.00. He subsequently courted and married Francis (Frankie) Tillinghast and settled in Toledo in 1875. There he opened a grocery store on Adams Street near 12th.

There were opportunities for a fellow with ambition, and a grubstake, in the wholesale grocers trade and Alvin Woolson was not a man to let grass grow beneath his feet. In 1882 the Woolson Spice Co. was formed with a capital of $30,000.00 which represented significant local support from Toledo's business community including John Berdan and James Secor. The old Warren & Bidwell company was in financial straights and was to fall under the gavel at a government forclosure sale. Woolson was the successful bidder.

Woolson was a man possessed. He was tireless in his efforts to establish Lion Coffee as a major brand. It was 10 years before the first profits were realized. Then the tide came in and over the next five years over million profits were realized.

As markets filled and competition became fierce Woolson utilized a program of "premiums" to promote his products and encourage sales. "Save the wrapper" and "Cut out the Lion's Head" became the watchword of the day in households where the Lion Brand was used. Trading cards accompanied packages and toys could be sent for. There was something for everyone in the way of a Lion brand premium from bicycles and jackknifes to lace curtains. (SOURCE: The Free Library)
Click here to see a photo of Woolson.

I wonder if those who created these advertising premiums ever thought about their work still being around long after they were gone. Did they imagine these little scraps of paper would last well over a hundred years and be sought after? I doubt it. These were items meant to be played with and tossed.

I'll admit there are books I've designed that I know will be around for decades after I'm gone. I hope they provide pleasure to those who find them.